For the past couple weeks, since being back in TN, I've attended Grace Center in Grasslands. Both times I've known that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and God made sure that the messages have been precisely what I needed - not to say that they weren't for every other person in attendance, too!
I've been praying and reading and pondering and searching and wrestling and asking about all kinds of things. Two specific things keep coming up - and have been for over two years - are holiness & love.
As I've been reading through Romans, chapters 13 & 14 have talked about both. At Grace Center this week, pastor Jeff touched on holiness and re-connecting with several friends who have been wounded by - what I call "religious love" - has only made me further my pursuit of revelation on both subjects.
Yes, volumes have been written on each topic individually and I don't in any way claim to have a full grasp of one or both, but felt compelled to share what I feel the Holy Spirit showed me this morning.
How can anyone tell that I'm a Christian by just looking at me? Do my words, actions, clothes, habits, hobbies, & priorities paint a clear picture of who I am? Am I more influenced by the world around me or by God inside me? Does my outside match my inside?
In my notes from Sunday's message I wrote, "Lord, remove me from the influence of the world. Help me not to dull my heart with what I watch, think, say and listen to." It is my desire to be holy - not "holier than thou". "Holy" is defined as "devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity"...so to be holy my life needs to be devoted entirely to God and His work.
We can't be holy if we don't know love. (Check out 1 Corinthians 13 for an in-depth look at love.) Webster defines love as, "a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person's adoration of God"
Romans 14:13 reads, "Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother." This passage is clearly talking about someone who is a Christian - a "brother."
Romans 13:9(b) & 10 read, all the commandments "are summed up in the single command, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. Love does no wrong to one's neighbor [it never hurts anybody]. Therefore love meets all the requirements and is the fulfilling of the Law." This passage is speaking of neighbors. Neighbors can be anyone - not necessarily a Christian.
So where do we start? If we walk in love toward everyone (our neighbors) and stop criticizing, blaming and judging our brothers (fellow Christians) we will be well on our way.
Love leads to holiness & holiness compels us to love.